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Front of Camden Hall

Thomas Merritt Nichols

Tom Nichols is the youngest son of Colonel Ray B. Nichols, who gave 42 years of service to Hargrave Military Academy as a faculty member. Born in August 1950 and raised on the HMA campus, Tom attended Hargrave from 1960 to 1968. After graduating from East Tennessee State University in Johnson City in 1972, Tom joined the U.S. Navy. After 18 months of flight training, he was awarded his “Wings of Gold” in the spring of 1974. Tom completed two tours of duty in Asia, 9 years of service, and attained the rank of Lieutenant Commander. From 1984 to 2010, Tom was a line pilot with United Parcel Service (UPS). During his career he attained numerous certificates, that of Private Pilot, Commercial Pilot, Multi-Engine, Flight Instructor, Flight Engineer, and Airline Transport. With the Airline Transport Pilot Certificate he obtained type ratings on the Boeing 757/767, DC-8, Airbus A-310, Lockheed C-130, and Fairchild 227. From 1977 until 2007 Tom owned and managed 24 rental properties in California, Kentucky, and Virginia. Today Tom spends time “tinkering” with projects around his farm in Virginia, flying and maintaining his Van’s RV-12 aircraft, and working with the Pittsylvania Pet Center to better the lives of animals without homes. Tom is an active member and Deacon in the Chatham Baptist Church. He currently resides in Pittsylvania County, VA, with his wife Leilanie, three cats, and two dogs. In his retirement, Thomas hopes to be able to make the world a little better place for those that were not as fortunate as he has been in his lifetime.